The Canadian immigration system has always backed the reunification of families. For this, Canadian citizens and permanent residents can sponsor their immigrating family members and relatives for permanent residency in Canada.

The Family Class Sponsorship Program allows adult citizens and permanent residents of Canada to finance a family member for the Canadian citizenship. However, the person seeking sponsorship must be any of the below to meet eligibility:

  • Spouse, conjugal or common-law partner
  • Parent
  • Grandparent
  • Dependent child
  • Sibling, niece, nephew, or dependent grandchild below 18 years of age (whose parents are deceased)

The sponsored person must either reside outside of Canada or legally, temporarily residing in Canada (e.g., on a study permit or work permit).

Definition of a Spouse/Partner

Definition of a spouse/partner to be eligible for Family Class Sponsorship should be any of the below:

  • Spouse: Legally married as in the law of the origin country and under Canadian law
  • Conjugal partner: A minimum of one year of cohabitation in a conjugal relationship without any interruptions.
  • Common-law partner: Conjugal relationship for a minimum duration of one year (similar to marriage or common-law relationships), but the couple cannot live together due to religious barriers, immigration issues, marital status, or sexual orientation. 
  • Same-sex relationships: This category considers these relationships valid for Canadian immigration.

Definition of a Dependent child

A dependent child can be referred as a child of the sponsor or a child of sponsor’s spouse; however, to meet the eligibility, the child must be below 22 years of age and do not have his or her own spouse or common-law partner. Children over 22 can also be dependents if they were financially dependent on their parents before the age of 22 and still seek financial support from their parents due to a physical or mental condition.

Children in the sole custody of the ex-spouse are also considered dependent, but the same needs to be specified on the sponsorship application. Also, if a dependent child has his or her own dependent children, then the sponsor needs to prove their financial capacity to support all the members, and for this, the sponsor must meet a low-income cut-off.

Definition of a Sponsor

An adult Canadian citizen or permanent resident (i.e., above 18 years of age) can be a sponsor. Moreover, a sponsor must live in Canada; the only exception is the sponsor is currently residing outside of Canada but planning to live in Canada after the arrival of the sponsored person.

A Canadian permanent resident or citizen may not sponsor if he or she meets any of the below situations: 

  • Are in prison
  • Are soon to be bankrupted
  • Are subject to a removal order
  • Gets social assistance from the government (exception includes disability)
  • Have been convicted of/threatened to commit/attempted an offence (violent or sexual in nature)
  • Have not repaid their immigration loans or made delayed payments
  • Have failed to pay child support payments
  • Have already sponsored a relative before but failed to meet terms then
  • Have sponsored a spouse or common-law partner (but the person sponsored has gained residency for not more than three years)
  • Were also sponsored and gained Canadian permanent residency for not more than five years

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Other Requirements


The sponsor must pay sponsorship and processing fees to the government of Canada for Family Class sponsorship application. Furthermore, there is an additional “Right of Permanent Residence Fee” for all sponsored members other than dependent children; also, this is the only fee refunded in case applications are denied or withdrawn. 

Family Member Fees Total Fees per Person ($CAN)
Sponsorship Fee Processing Fee Right of Permanent Residence Fee
Spouse, partner, or relative (22 years old or above) $75 $475 $490 $1040
Relative below 22 years of age (no dependent children) $75 $75 $490 $640
Dependent/adopted child or orphaned relative $75 $75 $150

Sponsorship Agreement

 The sponsor must agree to support his or her sponsored relative financially in case they are not able to meet their needs. The purpose is to ensure that the sponsored person will not seek social support from the government. Moreover, this financial obligation varies depending on the relation between the sponsor and the person sponsored:

  • Spouse, conjugal or common-law partner: 3 years
  • Dependent child
    • 3 years for a dependent child above age 22
    • 10 years or when the child is 22 years old (whichever closer)
  • Parent or Grandparent: 20 years

Also, this financial obligation on sponsor does not end even if the sponsored person becomes a Canadian citizen, moves away from Canada, or separates/divorces the sponsor.

Medical Examination

At the time of application, the sponsored individual must submit the results of a medical examination. Applications from Europe, Africa, and the Middle East are required to submit biometrics too.

Police Certificates

Applicants and family members above 18 years of age must submit police certificates of the residential country and any other country where they have resided for over six months.

Quebec Requirements

The Canadian province of Quebec has its own additional eligibility requirements for family sponsorship, exclusive of the federal criteria. After applying for sponsorship in Quebec, the prospective sponsors will receive a letter with instructions or an email regarding the submission of a special agreement to the provincial government of Quebec.

Other Pathways

If an individual does not meet eligibility for immigration to Canada under the Family Class Sponsorship Program, they can still try for other pathways to immigrate to Canada. They may consider the federal Express Entry system if they have relevant skills or work experience in any specific trade or occupation.

 Furthermore, many Canadian provinces have introduced family sponsorship programs under their Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). 

 Note that the Family Class Sponsorship Program does not directly process the applications for an adopted child. Thus, interested sponsors should send an inquiry to the government website of the Canadian province or territory before submitting an application to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

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